28 December 2007
In the last week or so I have found myself sitting like a cat at the kitchen window watching the birds. They are constant visitors to the well-stocked feeder. My father dutifully buys sunflower seeds in bulk to keep the feathered friends happy through the winter. Even on these mild days they have been in a bit of a frenzy.
I decided to sit down and draw them—quick calligraphic sketches trying to capture the fleeting seconds (and feathers). The pages that result are almost lyrical to me. I can sit and draw 10-12 pages in my sketchbook without even realizing it. It is very soothing to sit and watch the gentle rhythm of them all.
I found out it is actually quite difficult to draw the birds on the feeder, they are too quick for me. I try to capture the birds on the ground at the foot of the feeder.
The chickadees are like dive bombers and never fly in a straight line. Their black and white heads pause only momentarily before they zip off again. The titmice are also elusive. They have peaked heads like cardinals but without the brilliant coloring. They are more subdued in blue-ish grey and cream. They are one of my favorite birds. The bluejays are bullies, they pick on anything smaller than themselves and hog the feeder. The morning doves are timid and never leave the ground. They gingerly bob around the foot of the feeder. Smaller finches and the quiet little snowbirds are also frequent diners.
On Christmas Eve I had a very rare visitor. A female Red Headed Kinglet was on the ground. Her markings were unfamiliar to me—she was small and sleek with smooth olive colored feathers and a striking pattern of black and white stripes on her wings. I looked up her markings in the field guide and discovered she was very far from home. Her normal range is Alaska and Western Canada and she summers in the Gulf. Hopefully she will find her way again.
I have devoted an entire sketchbook to the birds and I hope to fill it by the time winter break is over. I haven’t decided what I am going to do with the sketches (if anything) but for now it is quite nice to spend an hour or so each day drawing my feathered friends.